Omicron has moved ahead of all the other variants and is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S., accounting for 73% of new infections last week, CDC says on Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers showed nearly a six-fold increase in omicron’s share of infections in only one week.
Omicron is responsible for an estimated 90% or more of new infections in the New York area, the Southeast, the industrial Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. The national rate suggests that more than 650,000 omicron infections occurred in the U.S. last week.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the new numbers reflect the kind of growth seen in other countries. Walensky says new data is not “surprising” as it reflects growth seen in other countries.
Scientists in Africa first sounded the alarm about omicron less than a month ago and on Nov. 26 the World Health Organization designated it as a “variant of concern.” The mutant has since shown up in about 90 countries.
On Monday, the CDC revised its estimate for omicron cases for the week that ended Dec. 11, after analyzing more samples. About 13% of the cases that week were from omicron, not the 3% previously reported. The week before, omicron accounted for just 0.4% of cases.
CDC officials said they do not yet have estimates of how many hospitalizations or deaths are due to omicron.
According to the AP “CDC’s estimates are based on thousands of coronavirus specimens collected each week through university and commercial laboratories and state and local health departments. Scientists analyze their genetic sequences to determine which versions of the COVID-19 viruses are most abundant.”